The Red Sox acquired struggling catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers on Saturday but they failed to get any help for the bullpen that is their top priority heading into the stretch run.
"It is an empty feeling to come away empty-handed," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said Saturday, about two hours after the trading deadline passed without his acquiring any major league relievers. "But before we did something that we would regret for a long time, we felt this was the best course to ultimately help out 2010 club."
In a series of minor trades that lacked the big splash of the moves made by the rival New York Yankees, the Red Sox got Saltalamacchia for two minor leaguers, a player to be named and cash.They also sent reliever Ramon Ramirez to the San Francisco Giants for pitching prospect Daniel Turpen.
Also on Saturday, the deadline for trading players without needing to clear waivers, Boston designated outfielder Jeremy Hermida for assignment and selected outfielder Ryan Kalish from Triple-A Pawtucket. Left-hander Dustin Richardson was recalled from Pawtucket.
In other developments, Epstein said the team was due to talk to Mike Lowell, who was expected to be traded somewhere he could contribute. The MVP of Boston's 2007 World Series championship, Lowell is batting .213 while getting just 80 at-bats this season.
Lowell declined to talk to reporters before leaving the clubhouse after the game.
Saltalamacchia, who was optioned to Triple-A, opened the season in Texas and went 1-for-5 in two games - including the game-winning hit in the season opener. But he was placed on the disabled list with a strained upper back; he went to Triple-A Oklahoma City and struggled to throw the ball back to the pitcher's mound.
Epstein said Red Sox scouts have reported Saltalamacchia is not having trouble getting the ball back to the mound and could benefit from a new team.
"He's a classic guy with a high ceiling who needs a change of scenery," Epstein said. "We figured now was a good time to go get him."
Texas got right-hander Roman Mendez, first baseman Chris McGuiness, a player to be named and cash. Mendez is 20 and McGuiness is 22, and both are at Class A.
After struggling with injuries all season - including half of the opening day starters - the Red Sox entered 71/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East and 61/2 behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild-card race. In the past 24 hours, the Yankees have acquired reliever Kerry Wood, designated hitter Lance Berkman and outfielder Austin Kearns.
"We're going to need a big August to get where we want to go," Epstein said. "We still think we have the ability to make the postseason. We have to get really hot."
The Red Sox were shopping for outfield help, at least until Jacoby Ellsbury is healthy, and another setup man in the bullpen to bridge the gap between the starters and Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon. Boston's bullpen has been among the worst in the majors this season in homers allowed, and it has blown 14 saves.
But rather than trade prospects like Kalish and left-hander Felix Dubrount, the Red Sox decided to give them a try. Kalish made his major league debut on Saturday, and the team announced that Dubrount would be converted to a reliever in Triple-A to see if he can't help the Boston club this season.
Kalish, who was batting .294 with 13 homers, 47 RBIs and 25 stolen bases in Pawtucket, singled on Saturday in his first major league at-bat.
"With the way his development's going, he's ready for a trial here at the major league level," Epstein said.
Under Epstein, the Red Sox have a history of making big deals - and good ones - that helped propel the team into the playoffs.
In 2004, he traded away shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and acquired Orlando Cabrera, Doug Mientkiewicz and Dave Roberts - key parts of the team that helped end Boston's 86-year World Series drought. The Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez for Jason Bay in 2008, and last year they got catcher Victor Martinez.
Other years, they've walked away from the table without adding to the team because the price was too high.
"Today is more like the latter," Epstein said, noting that players can still be acquired through Aug. 31 if they clear waivers. "It's not the end of the story. We have August. We have a team that has the ability to get really hot as we get healthy. We believe in this team. We just need to get healthy and hot."
This program aired on August 1, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.